SACRAMENTO - Law enforcement is on the lookout for a red 2011 Ford Fusion, California license plate 6ROC306, with a widower's irreplaceable possession inside.
California Highway Patrol Officer Michael Bradley said an urn with the cremains of the wife of 80-year-old Melvin Hayes was in the back seat of his car when it was stolen at a car wash around noon Thursday.
Hayes had stopped at the Premier Car Wash on Orchard Loop Drive at Power Inn Road to get his car washed, he told the CHP. He had planned to go from there to his priest to have his late wife's ashes blessed.
At the car wash, a woman struck up a conversation with Hayes as he waited.
"She hugged me a couple times. I couldn't imagine why," Hayes said.
After that, the woman asked him for money to buy a soda.
"And I said I don't have any single bills, but I got a pocket full of change, and I gave her enough money to buy the soda pop," Hayes explained.
He now believes this was all a performance to make people at the car wash think the two were together, and it worked.
"We thought that they were together as girlfriend or something," Premier Car Wash general manager Victor Vosburgh said.
The people at the car wash think the woman somehow stole his claim check.
"She ended up with his ticket and went out front, and my inspector asked for the ticket, got a ticket that was the car, the license number, and he released the keys to her," Vosburgh said.
"I went looking for the attendant. They said, 'oh your girlfriend drove the car away,'" Hayes said.
This couldn't have come at a worse time for Hayes, whose wife of nearly 50 years died less than three weeks ago.
"Nothing else matters. I just want to get my wife's ashes back," Hayes said.
The woman was described as black, in her 40s, short and heavy-set.
Anyone who has seen the car or believes they know the woman was asked to contact the CHP at (916) 681-2300 or the CHP Communications Center at (916) 861-1300.
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